If you’re going to Chelsea Harbour for the Design Centre exhibition, there’s another Marilyn-related event to check out in nearby Fulham. Happy Birthday Miss Monroe, a pop-up display of classic images from Milton Greene, Bert Stern, Douglas Kirkland and others, opens at The Showroom Presents from tomorrow and throughout June, Jess Denham reports for the Independent.
Women in Dior: Sublime Elegance of a Portrait, opening at the Christian Dior Museum in Granville, Normandy on May 5 (through to September 25), features Marilyn – as photographed by Bert Stern in a black Dior dress – among other iconic women who wore Dior, reports the Malay Mail.
“The exhibition focuses on the elegant women who have showcased Dior’s dresses, garments and accessories in style, from 1947 to the present day. Their personality, style and key moments from their lives are explored through a selection of dresses, photographs, letters, paintings and drawings.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a book, also entitled Women in Dior – Sublime Elegance of a Portrait, written by fashion journalist Laurence Benaïm and published by Rizzoli. The book takes a closer look at the famous figures who marked the history of the French fashion house, exploring their tastes, their memories and — of course — their Dior ensembles.”
Vanity Fair has released a one-off tribute magazine dedicated to Marilyn on the eve of her 90th birthday, as part of their ‘Icons’ series. It is currently available from newsstands in the US only, but can also be ordered from their website.
The cover image, by Bert Stern, has been used twice before by the magazine. It also appears excessively airbrushed, and is a disappointing choice overall. However, there are many more photos inside, as well as some of the better articles about Marilyn published in recent years.
Unfortunately, the special issue also includes more dubious pieces about Marilyn and the Kennedys, citing widely disputed sources like Robert Slatzer and Jeanne Carmen; and Tony Curtis’s questionable claims about his relationship with Marilyn.
Interestingly, the current issue of Vanity Fair‘s regular edition also includes a tribute to MM, with comedienne Amy Schumer recreating her ‘Golden Dreams’ calendar pose on the cover. And in France, Marilyn’s life is chronicled in L’Humanite, among twenty famous names from the 20th century – more details here.
UPDATE: Amy Schumer has been featured in another seemingly Marilyn-inspired cover shot, for American Vogue‘s July issue. (Marilyn wore a very similar red off-the-shoulder dress while promoting Monkey Business in 1952.)
Artist Chuka Susan Chesney‘s portraits of Marilyn – each based on the same 1962 photo by Bert Stern – will be on display at the Altadena Public Library throughout April, reports Pasadena Now. Chesney will donate 30% of her sales to Kitten Rescue, an Los Angeles-based charity.
In Los Angeles, artists are exploring the death of John F. Kennedy and the women in his life, reports VICE. Perhaps inevitably, Marilyn is a featured subject, although in truth her connection to JFK may be more mythical than real – and after all, she died more than a year before him.
“Painter Rosson Crow’s first foray into filmmaking, for example, is Madame Psychosis Holds a Séance, now on view at LA’s Honor Fraser Gallery through December 19 … Starring Kelly Lynch as a slightly worse-for-the-wear 60s-era singer whose fragile, careworn platinum blonde, red-lipsticked beauty deliberately evokes latter-day Marilyn Monroe, the film shows the existential meltdown of Madame Psychosis upon hearing the news of the death through TV and newspaper. She moves with an awkward, dream-logic elegance through the stages of grief, chain-smoking at Ouija boards, the phonecalls to prove he loved her in real life not only her imagination, the gorgeous, taunting mountain of roses delivered to his widow rather than her own lonely bungalow, that bury her in a nightmare, the creeping in of self-doubt, the descent into madness.”
Meanwhile, cult performance artist Karen Finley has referenced Marilyn in her new show, Love Field (named after the Dallas airport where Kennedy touched down on the day of his murder.) Finley was inspired by Bert Stern’s 1962 photos of Marilyn in a black wig. The images have since been interpreted as a cheeky impersonation of the first lady, Jackie Kennedy – however, there is no evidence that Marilyn intended it as such.
“Visual, performance, and literary icon of punk-wave feminism Karen Finley was also in LA around the anniversary of the assassination, for both the opening of her painting and drawing show Love Field at Coagula Curatorial, as well as the coinciding inauguration of the Broad Museum’s performance art programs with her seminal work, The Jackie Look … In the Love Field show, Finley brings together paintings and drawings from diverse but interrelated series examining the public rituals Jackie was forced to endure during what ought to have been a time of private grieving … and always, somewhere, the equally haunting phantom of Marilyn Monroe.”
Interior designer Harry Heissmann is suing his neighbour at Brooklyn Supreme Court, after her bathroom flooded during renovations – destroying limited edition artworks of Marilyn by photographer Bert Stern in his downstairs apartment, according to the New York Post.
“The ‘priceless’ Valentines and other art were wrecked when water poured down Heissmann’s walls, court papers say.
The suit doesn’t put a price on the ruined works by Stern, famous for his photographs of the sex symbol, ‘for the simple reason that there have been no subsequent sales since these first and only editions were purchased by collectors around the world,’ it says.”
Marilyn makes the cover of Vanity Fair‘s August issue (French edition only.) If the photo looks familiar, that’s because it was previously used on Vanity Fair‘s US edition, back in October 2008.
And by comparison with Bert Stern’s original photo, you can tell that poor Marilyn has fallen victim to the digital airbrush!
Some fans have suggested that another, more flattering Stern photo could have been used…
The magazine includes an article about Lawrence Schiller’s photos of Marilyn, filming the poolside scene in Something’s Got to Give. As some readers may recall, an extract from Schiller’s book, Marilyn & Me, was published in the US edition of Vanity Fair in June 2012. The French article, however, is written by MM superfan Sebastien Cauchon.
Which begs the question – why wasn’t a Schiller photo used on the cover? Many fans were asking the same question in 2012, when an Andre de Dienes photo was used on the US cover of Vanity Fair, and not Schiller.
The answer, according to Sebastien Cauchon, is that Schiller’s poolside nudes don’t include a full-face, colour shot of Marilyn making eye contact with the camera. Marilyn & Me‘s original cover (later rejected) showed a pensive, full-face shot of MM in a fur hat, on the set of Something’s Got to Give – but not a nude. Presumably Vanity Fair‘s editors felt that a cheerful beach shot from De Dienes – though taken 13 years previously – was more in keeping with the summery, au naturel theme.
And as Sebastien Cauchon explained to members of Immortal Marilyn’s Facebook group this weekend, his article differs from the 2012 extract because its main subject is the proposed Playboy cover shoot Marilyn was considering at the time of her death (though according to Schiller, she was having second thoughts about the project.)
The article includes Hugh Hefner’s letter to Schiller and fellow photographer Bill Woodfield, explaining the concept of the mooted cover – click on the photo below to read in full.
The photo shoot went ahead with model Sheralee Connors taking Marilyn’s place, and was featured in Playboy‘s 1962 Christmas issue.
‘From the Archives of Bert Stern’, an exhibition including images of the photographer’s 1962 session with Marilyn – and other famous subjects – is on display at New York’s Staley-Wise Gallery until June 20, reports the New York Times.
This 1953 pin-up shot by Bert Reisfield features in a new exhibition at In Focus Gallery in Cologne, Germany, until November 4th. This Marilyn retrospective also includes photographs by Eve Arnold, Andre de Dienes, Elliott Erwitt, Sam Shaw, George Barris, Edward Clark, Bruno Bernard, and Bert Stern.
Actor John Malkovich has recreated a classic Marilyn pose for an art project with photographer Sandro Miller, now on display at Chicago’s Catherine Edelman Gallery, reports the Huffington Post. In the original photo session, with Bert Stern in 1962, Marilyn’s gallbladder surgery scar is also visible. Although Marilyn rejected a large number of his photos, Stern published them all after her death.
It’s a problematic subject to begin with, given Stern’s attitude towards Marilyn. Some fans may consider it a mockery of her sex appeal. But at least there is a certain bravery and good humour in the reproduction.
Here is an example of a picture Marilyn rejected – the orange cross is from her own pen.
And here it is re-enacted by Malkovich. I think this image is more powerful, because it reflects the ambivalence with which we now view Stern’s work – especially because it was one of Marilyn’s last photo shoots.
Obviously, Malkovich can’t match Marilyn’s beauty. It might have been interesting to see Malkovich recreate one of George Barris’s gentler images of Marilyn, taken shortly before she died.
Marilyn is one of several women Malkovich impersonates: the others include Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, Gordon Parks’ American Gothic, and Diane Arbus’s twins. Also featured is a parody of Warhol’s Marilyn, but that looks a lot like ‘Life is Wonderful’, Mr Brainwash’s MM/Michael Jackson portrait from 2009.